Welcome to Apoplectic Me, a blog about my hemorrhagic stroke and the resulting brain surgery, treatment, hospital stay, rehabilitation, return home and recovery. I hope you’ll find this is a place you can come to feel less alone, and more amused, in the wake of a stroke, whether your own, or that of a loved one. The aftermath of my stroke was often bleak, painful and horrible, and I wouldn’t wish one on anyone, but it’s also been full of love, friendship, kindness and opening doors….When I emerged from the fog of my cranial bleed, like a lot of stroke patients, I was easily excited and/or angered; it’s a classic symptom. In other words, I was apoplectic, in the layman’s sense of the word. I described myself in this fashion a few times before being motivated to look the word up. More technically, it means “(1) of, relating to, or causing, stroke, or (2) affected with, inclined to, or showing symptoms of, stroke”. Apoplexy, I discovered, means not only incapacity or speechlessness caused by extreme anger, but also incapacity resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
Given that, since waking up, I had been furiously and profanely inquiring as to the location of “my effing orange juice”, as well as declaring that, when I was recovered, it would be “well past time for someone else to suffer”, I was rather tickled by this discovery. It’s entirely appropriate, of course. Uncontrolled anger and aggression are commonly observed stroke symptoms, whether resulting from the brain injury itself, or the depression that often accompanies a stroke. I know that, some two months after my stroke, the frustration of finding simple tasks tricky to complete — whether due to nerve pain, tiredness, or a reduced sense of balance or range of movement, or my memory, which is arguably even worse than… what was I saying again… still has the capacity to send me into a rage. In fact, it’ll be all I can do to stop this blog degenerating into a list of the things that have pissed me off over the past two months.
But, that’s not the idea. Since The Event, I’ve been jounalling regularly and, being stuck in various medical institutions, spending a lot of time in my own head. Since my release, I’ve struggled with what it means to be a stroke survivor, or patient. And I’d like to share the results of all this navel-gazing with my stroke-afflicted brothers and sisters, and their lovers, friends and families. Quite apart from anything else, I found that among the blood, shit, pain, snotters, anger and sadness, there’s a surprising amount of (admittedly absurd and often bleak) humour to be found in the wreckage of a stroke. This blog will start at the present day, a couple of weeks after my return home from intensive rehabilitation and into my attempted readjustment into regular, non-institutional, stroke-free life. From there, it will reach forward into those experiences, as well as back into the circumstances surrounding my stroke and the aftermath. So, the treatment of time will necessarily be a bit flexible. Like a Christopher Nolan movie. Memento, most likely.
So, hobble on in. Let’s have a laugh together.
A stroke patient walks into a bar. “What’ll it be, sir?” asks the bartender. “Can’t remember.”